Another gem from a Greybull native

Marlys Good
At Random

Jeff Tolman, a Greybull native, son of Bob and Freda Gould Tolman, retired lawyer and judge, is also a talented writer. The Standard has been blessed that he has shared his talent, his way with words, with us.
We hope you enjoy his latest contribution, wise words that should make us all stop and think.
“The Art of Conversation” by Jeff Tolman
“I have a friend — Burt, I’ll call him, because I don’t know anyone named Burt — about whom I care a great deal. He is interesting, smart, and well-traveled. Off the top of his head, for example, he could likely tell you the square root of 5776.76.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t do well with simple conversation on all math.
“Conversation on math is a simple concept: divide the conversation time buy the number of participants.  The answer — 50 percent each for two people, 25 percent each for four — is the percentage of time each should spend talking. The remainder of the time should be spent listening.
“My friend fails that test annoyingly often.  No matter who the other conversationalists are,  or how many there are, he tries to tell then tales, teach lessons and entertain them.  Speaking with my friend, often — too often — ends up a monologue more than a dialogue.
“Years ago, four siblings came into my law office to discuss the death of their surviving parent.  The oldest held a pencil and immediately placed it in the center of the conference table.
“After my remarks about the process ahead, one of the siblings picked up the pencil and began her questions and comments. No one interrupted or attempted to finish her story. When she was done (stories go remarkably quickly and stay much more on point when no verbal wrestling occurs!), she placed the pencil back on the table. One of her siblings picked up the pencil and began his questions and comments. Again, no interruptions of concentration on what the person was saying. Finally, I couldn’t help but ask about the pencil and procedure.
“The four siblings told me about “the talking pencil that their parents had used to keep an organized conversation on point, concise, and moving forward in an organized way. When you had the pencil, you had the ‘floor.’ They had found, also, that in the end, each participant was able to  share  views and  better hear and understand the opinions of others. They noted that without fighting for conversation, “math” percentages were easy to experience.
“Conversation on math needs to be taught in schools and practiced on the streets, going generations back and adding to and creating a new three Rs: reading, writing and conversational (a)rithmetic. To help, all assignments must be done in pencil!”